Lombardi’s Seafood in Winter Park to be featured on Travel Channel’s ‘The Zimmern List’

Chef, food writer and TV host Andrew Zimmern paid a surprise visit on Tuesday, Sept. 11, to Lombardi’s Seafood.

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  • | 5:52 a.m. September 20, 2018
Andrew Zimmern, Max Lombardi and Mike Lombardi posed for a photo together during the day of filming.
Andrew Zimmern, Max Lombardi and Mike Lombardi posed for a photo together during the day of filming.
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A local Winter Park eatery and fish market is about to get some major added exposure thanks to a special guest.

Chef, food writer and TV host Andrew Zimmern paid a surprise visit on Tuesday, Sept. 11, to Lombardi’s Seafood, which will be featured on the Travel Channel show “The Zimmern List.”

The show follows Zimmern as he travels to different cities across the country and breaks down his personal picks for the best places to eat and their best dishes.

In Zimmern’s recent trip to Orlando, only one eatery in Winter Park made the cut — and that was Lombardi’s.

“What a great day!” Lombardi’s Seafood wrote in a Facebook post. “Lombardi’s had the honor today of having Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel’s ‘The Zimmern List’ for lunch. A big shout-out and thanks to Andrew and the Travel Channel Team for choosing Lombardi’s. Can’t wait to see the result. We will let you know when we get information on the times it will air.”

Lombardi’s co-owner Mike Lombardi said Zimmern tried the blackened grouper sandwich, steamed Key West pink shrimp and fried oysters.

Lombardi’s was just one of a handful of restaurants in the Orlando area that Zimmern visited. Other local eateries that saw the famed food critic enter their doors included East End Market and Black Rooster Tacqueria, among others.

It was an honor to have Zimmern come to try some fresh seafood, especially because Lombardi’s only has had a restaurant in its market since 2012 — just a fraction of the local market’s history that pushes 60 years. 

“I was really surprised … because we’ve been around for a long time, but we’ve only been doing the restaurant part for a couple years, ” Lombardi said. “To get somebody to give us some mention or some notoriety was such an honor. Basically (Zimmern) goes into towns based on his own or chef recommendations and chooses where he wants to go. We made the short list, and we’re very proud of that.”

Zimmern is most recognized as the host of “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” “Bizarre Foods America” and “Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World” on the Travel Channel. He also has appeared as a cast member of the “All-Star Academy” on Food Network and starred as a judge on the Food Network series “Chopped.”

The three-generation seafood company Zimmern visited in Winter Park began with Tony Lombardi, Sr., who started his career as a deckhand on the Tampa shrimping fleet in the early 1950s. He later got a job with a wholesaler, and a few years later, he and his brother opened their wholesale/retail market in Tampa. 

In 1961, Tony and his wife, Angie, moved their business to Winter Park at the corner of Orange and Orlando avenues, where they stayed for more than 50 years. During that time, the business was passed down to Tony’s son, Tony Lombardi, Jr. and his wife, Terri, followed by their children, Mike Lombardi and Denise Lombardi Smith. The Winter Park fish market moved to a new updated location with an upscale cafe in 2015 off West Fairbanks Avenue. 

But through all that time, the market has taken pride in bringing the freshest seafood possible to Winter Park and Orlando kitchens, Lombardi said.

The visit from Zimmern helps put Lombardi’s on a national stage, and for that Lombardi is grateful.

“Of course I think it’s going to help business, but what I hope it does more is it shows people what we’re about,” Lombardi said. “The real philosophy of our business is you’re getting seafood directly from the source. We’re actively unloading boats multiple times a day. The fresh fish is coming here before it’s going anywhere else in Orlando, and people are able to come in and buy it for their home or eat it right here. More than anything, I hope that’s showcased.”

Lombardi’s plans to continue building its restaurant space with bar seating and a selection of beers, coming within about a month.


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